Loving Latin

By Andrew Gilhooley / 411

Take some reggae, mix in a little funk and add a splash of Latin flavor.  You’ve got the music of the B-Side Players, Friday’s guests at Moe’s Alley Blues Club in Santa Cruz.

The seven members of the B-Side Players hail from Chula Vista in southern California, close to San Diego and the Mexican border.  Bandleader Karlos Paez lays claim to “growing up on a tour bus” – his father was a member of Los Moonlighters, a band that has toured all over Mexico since the 1970s (and continues to do so).  Rather than playing Latin music, Paez’s early interest lay in punk rock, and he played in various punk bands with his friends.  However, the direction of the music was soon to change.  “What happened was, a lot of us, we kind of bonded with this new thirst for Latin music.  We were doing a lot of Latin jams, and we all started studying world music and a lot of different rhythms.”

The world music influences gradually began to take over the band, who were playing in local clubs where punk was still the popular musical style.  “[We] were called the Brown Side Players, because we were from, you know, the brown side of town, we’re all Latinos,” said Paez.  The Latin sounds may have seemed incongruous in the clubs, but the patrons loved it.  “What happened was our first show was already like a celebration because it was such a new thing.”

Since those early days of the band in 1993, the B-Side Players have established a solid reputation in southern California, winning several San Diego music awards including Best Latin Band.  They have toured all over the United States and have ventured into Mexico, and have shared the stage with top named acts such as Ben Harper, Papa Roach, Brian Setzer, Poncho Sanchez and Ozomatli.  Live, the band has a reputation for getting even the most reluctant audiences up to dance, and it is not unknown for all the band members to abandon their regular instruments for congas, timbales, shekere and cajon and launch into free-form Latin percussion jams during the show.

The members of the B-Side Players have released several CDs, including “Movement,” the B-Side Players’ 2001 debut containing songs in both English and Spanish, and a reggae en espanol album titled “Maiz”.  Despite a grueling tour schedule, the band hopes to record again in the near future.

First published in “411”, The Salinas Californian, November 4, 2004

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